Paleface, the one-time roommate of Beck, has been at the cusp of “making it” more than once only to have drugs, alcohol, and bad luck derail his promising career. An early influence on a young Beck Hansen, his protégé once said, “He was a great songwriter, a generous friend, and a big influence on my early stuff.” He was part of the burgeoning New York City anti-folk scene in the early 1990s and had achieved a minor level of success before overindulgence nearly left him dead.
Rebounding from that dark period, Paleface has reestablished himself as one of the leaders of the neo-folk scene influencing a new generation of songwriters. Following a collection of self-released and small label releases, The Show is on the Road, the songwriter’s first release for Ramseur Records (Avett Brothers, Bombadil, Everybodyfields) and his first album on a major label in over a decade, has finally hit the streets.
Staying true to his minimalist approach, Paleface is augmented by only his drummer, Mo Samalot, and the occasional guest spot by some of the Avett Brothers (most notably on the title track and “Traveling from North Carolina,” on which both Seth Avett and Bob Crawford join on piano and bass respectively). Each song sounds like the best part of any late-night, drunken campfire sing-along. The album is both a reflective look at the past, and a glance toward a brighter future. Paleface lets his years of hard living and bad luck pour through in pure emotion, but he does not sing with the sound of regret, but rather the wizened voice of someone who is at peace with where he is in the world. He delivers each lyric and word with the perspective of someone who has gambled with a different side of life, and after trying many out, has found a better path to take.
Paleface doesn’t forget how to have fun, though, from the rollicking, rolling, road-tripping title track, to longing for his home in Brooklyn in “New York, New York,”, to the ode to his favorite girl, “You Are the Girl” The songwriter crafts an album that finds him looking forward with a smile and enjoying each day as it comes.
The Show is on the Road is contemplative, but with a lust-for-life, windows down, wind-in-your face, summer album swagger. For someone who once said “each record is where you are, you may not like it in ten-years, but you should appreciate it for what it is now,” his new album is exactly where he is, and he sings like he truly appreciates that moment.
The Show is on the Road is out now on Ramseur Records.